Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 21, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Jean-Philippe Lessard of McGill University explains how modern techniques are being used to refine an iconic map of the world’s biodiversity. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 21, 2013

Ohio State University joins Morehouse College this year as site of a commencement speech by President Obama. Two other sitting presidents -- George W. Bush and Gerald Ford -- have addressed Ohio State graduates. Historically, presidents deliver commencement addresses at one public institution, one private institution and a U.S. service academy.

 

February 21, 2013

Oxford Brookes University is becoming the first British university to use U.S.-style grade-point averages, although the institution will also still use the British style of grouping students by broad honors categories, Times Higher Education reported. Officials cited a number of reasons, including the way G.P.A.s allow for ranges, while British honors don't distinguish between those who just made a category and those who just missed it, resulting in "cliff edges" between students.

 

February 20, 2013

Jean-Lou Chameau announced Tuesday that he will be stepping down as president of the California Institute of Technology, and will take a position leading the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, in Saudi Arabia. In a letter to the campus, Chameau said that he and his wife had until recently "believed we would complete our careers at Caltech and retire in Pasadena. It would be difficult not to feel that way when working in such a special place and community. We did not expect, however, to be presented with a unique and life-changing opportunity: to lead the recently created King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. As I considered accepting the position at KAUST and as I spoke with individuals involved in its founding, I was struck by the attention paid to establishing a culture of excellence, and how its planning had been influenced by great institutions from around the world, including Caltech."

 

February 20, 2013

Texas legislators are rallying around Bill Powers, the University of Texas at Austin president who may be the target of another ouster attempt by regents close to Governor Rick Perry, the Associated Press reported. Lieut. Governor David Dewhurst on Tuesday announced plans for Senate hearings on whether the UT Board of Regents is meddling too much into the decisions Powers makes. Further, he denounced what he called "character assassination" of Powers and his family in the form of anonymous letters he said are circulating among board members. Dewhurst did not offer specifics on the letters.

February 20, 2013

The Graduate Management Admission Council, which runs the Graduate Management Admission Test, is today introducing Reflect, a new service to test the "soft skills" of students. GMAC hopes that business schools (and employers and other colleges) will use the test to identify students' personality-related skills, and to help students develop their strengths and compensate for weaknesses. The test will take about 45 minutes and cost $99, which could be paid by the student or by a college wanting to test a class or a cohort. The test consists of more than 500 short answer questions (many of them true/false or yes/no). Those who take the test will get a report on how they score in 10 areas (such as resilience, drive and collaboration) as well as strategies based on their skill level.

Joseph P. Fox, associate dean and director of M.B.A. programs at Washington University in St. Louis, said that his institution wants to try using the test in organizational behavior and leaderships classes. Via e-mail, he said this would be valuable because "year after year employers identify the fact that well-developed soft skills are of paramount importance in the hiring and promotion process. They take the technical skills, tools, and intellectual horsepower as the 'price of entry' into their consideration. But they make the tough (and final) choices based on the other so called 'soft skills.'"

In recent years, the Educational Testing Service has been encouraging the use of the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT, and ETS has promoted its Personal Potential Index as a tool in which applicants to graduate schools can be measured on some similar characteristics as those that will be measured in Reflect. But a GMAC spokeswoman said that Reflect was not appropriate as an admissions tool.

 

 

February 20, 2013

Daniel LaVista, chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District since 2010, has announced he will be leaving the position, The Los Angeles Times reported. During his tenure, the district has dealt with severe state-imposed budget cuts and faced considerable scrutiny over management of a massive construction program.

 

February 20, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Jan Amend of the University of Southern California explains efforts to understand microbes that live deep below the surface of the earth. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 20, 2013

Clerical and support staff workers at the University of Akron have voted to unionize and to be represented by the Communications Workers of America, The Akron Beacon Journal reported. The union already represents skilled trades and crafts workers at the university.

 

February 20, 2013

Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese will deliver the 2013 Jefferson Lecture, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced Tuesday. Scorsese is the first filmmaker chosen for the honor, which is typically awarded to a scholar in the humanities (and is the highest accolade the federal government bestows for such work). NEH Chairman Jim Leach said that Scorsese "follows in the tradition of earlier speakers like John Updike, Barbara Tuchman, and Arthur Miller in revealing a profound understanding and empathy for the human condition.”

This year's lecture will be held on Monday, April 1, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

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